BBC’s documentary on the late politician Khadim Hussain Rizvi (late) titled ‘the accused: Damned or Devoted’ has been long-listed for the prestigious One World Media award. Revolving around the life of the Muslim scholar and politician, the biopic had narrated the exploitation of blasphemous laws of the country and therefore earned high regards on International platforms.
Khadim Hussain Rizvi was a Pakistani Islamic scholar, author and the founder of minor political organization Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP.) The late cleric is known for his voice to preserve Pakistan’s blasphemy law, with its violations leading to a mandatory death sentence. Khadim Husain’s political association TLP was also the outcome of upholding the aforementioned cause.
About Khadim Hussain Rizvi’s documentary
Going back to 2017, a Christian individual named Asia Bibi had been indicted of blasphemy by her co-workers. However, the then governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer had pushed Asia’s appeal against the accusations, rather than announcing immediate death sentence. And, for going against the blasphemy laws of the state, Salman Taseer’s body guard Mumtaz Qadri had murdered him publicly.
Consequently, Mumtaz Qadri was also hanged for assassination act. And, following Mumtaz’s death, Khadim Hussain Rizvi had emerged, when he formed the TLP to preserve country’s blasphemous laws under all circumstances.
Moreover, it is pertinent to mention that in 2018, Asia Bib was declared innocent by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. This led to the TLP staging sit-ins at Faizabad, an Islamabad-Rawalpindi conjuncture, which landed Khadim Hussain Rizvi’s organization on the political map.
The Accused: Damned or Devoted
‘The accused: Damned or Devoted’ is a BBC storyville produced biopic of the late maverick cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, which masterly depicted the misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan for political benefits.
In Pakistan, the blasphemy law prescribes a compulsory death sentence for disrespecting Prophet Muhammad and life imprisonment for desecrating the Qur’an.
“This Storyville documentary of Khadim Hussain Rizvi follows the stories and fates of four people accused of blasphemy. The most famous of them is Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who claims she was falsely accused by her Muslim co-workers after a disagreement. As the elections in Pakistan loom, the country is split between those who feel the law is being misused and want to change it, and those who believe it must be preserved at any cost. Its greatest advocate, cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, goes on a mission to do just this. As his campaign heats up, he gathers millions of supporters, sympathetic to his goal, and silences anyone attempting to change the law by condemning them to death.
As the world awaits the outcome of Asia Bibi’s trial, Rizvi uses the blasphemy law as a key platform to run for prime minister of Pakistan in the upcoming elections. Amidst the hysteria, those who oppose him and even his own followers become pawns in the ultimate quest for power.”
Directed by Mohammed Ali Naqvi who is a New York based filmmaker, ‘the accused: Damned or Devoted’ voiced out the misconduct and injustice, the minorities of Pakistan has to go through under false blasphemous allegations. And, with its powerful storyline and real life adaptation, the documentary had gained wide praises on both national and international platforms.
Talking about his daring project, director Mohammad Ali Naqvi commented,
“As I saw my country falling prey to the political ambitions of a despot, one who was using Islam as a veneer, I wanted to expose Rizvi. Here was a cleric who did not speak for me or other Muslims, he only spoke for his own political ambitions. In doing so, he was also responsible for the lynching of several minorities and Muslims who had been falsely accused of blasphemy. He had to be stopped and this was what motivated me to make this film.”
Khadim Hussain Rizvi’s biopic long listed for International Awards
With its brave and courageous storyline, The Accused: Damned or Devoted is contending for a One World Media Awards (OWM.)
The OWM received over 500 entries from 96 countries. There are 15 categories in total, ranging from Digital Media to Women Entrepreneurs Reporting.
Among these, a Khadim Hussain Rizvi documentary made the long list. The final three nominees in each category will be unveiled next month. Moreover, the winner will be announced in a virtual ceremony scheduled for June 17, 2021.